The three finalists for the Seattle Police Department’s permanent chief position showed shared commitments, but different approaches to alternative responses, gun violence and department reform in a virtual forum Thursday night, leaving the mayor to choose from varying degrees of change.

In a 90-minute publicly broadcast question-and-answer session with the candidates, a moderator from the Seattle Channel asked a selection of questions from 150 community submissions, covering the candidates’ views on departmental and public safety issues.

The candidates — SPD Interim Chief Adrian Diaz, SPD Assistant Chief Eric Greening and Assistant Tucson Police Chief Kevin Hall — were selected by a search committee from a pool of 15 applicants after a summer of public input. They have been presented to Mayor Bruce Harrell who will make an appointment, as required by the city’s charter.

Although all three are veteran police officials in leadership roles with roughly 30 years of comparable experience, they offer varying ideas and proposals for the mayor to consider.

Diaz said his track record, including steering the department through COVID, the 2020 police brutality protests and historic attrition makes him the best candidate. Greening pointed to his experience in a variety of positions at the department in his argument that he is the most qualified to lead SPD. Hall said his penchant for reform makes him the right choice “if the community believes that change is necessary in Seattle.”

Each finalist was separately asked the same questions and will meet with Harrell individually Friday. The mayor is expected to decide in early October and is currently collecting community feedback on the candidate forum online at


What policing alternatives do you support?

Each of the candidates said they support evidence-based alternative responses to emergency calls that do not warrant sworn officer response.

Diaz, citing a 2021 report conducted by the National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform, said anywhere from 12%-15% of calls for service can be handled by some kind of alternative response — varying from those that involve police and social workers to responses that don’t involve police at all.

While he noted his support for alternative responses like the department’s current Community Service Officer program or the Seattle Fire Department’s Health One program, which is designed to connect frequent emergency callers with resources and social and health services, Diaz did not propose specific additional alternative response options.

When asked the same question, Hall similarly said he would support any “evidence-based” alternative responses and would emphasize responses to people struggling with mental health and/or substance abuse. He noted his involvement in creating a substance abuse deflection program in Tucson, which allows officers to connect people with treatment rather than make arrests for nonviolent felony and misdemeanor charges related to drug use.

In Seattle, Hall said he would similarly focus on treatment for mental health calls. He added the city has the capacity to implement an unarmed crisis clinician team, like that in Tucson and other cities, to respond to certain mental health calls in lieu of police.

According to Hall, these clinicians could work out of the city’s 911 dispatch center, which he said is often the “gateway to the criminal justice system,” where they could help respond to and de-escalate callers.


“Behavioral health overall is key, and substance misuse is part and parcel to that,” Hall said.

Greening said he has a “great passion” for alternative responses, noting that in his current position he oversees the department’s Community Service Officers.

As chief, he said he would support expanding alternative responses, including doubling the department’s current crisis response, which would help with “officer burnout” and build trust in the community. As such, Greening said he would back alternative response efforts, even outside of the department.

“As chief of police, my job [would be] public safety. So if these resources are outside of department, I’m in support of it. If they’re inside, I will lead the program. Either way I want it to be successful,” Greening said.

Greening added that Community Support Officers should be the “primary” response to noncriminal calls to reduce call response times and free up officers to respond to violent crime.

What is your plan to address increased violence and the prevalence of firearms in Seattle?


The trio described similar approaches to gun violence, all endorsing
“hot spot” policing and increased community intervention in problem areas.

This approach, as Greening described it, involves a high presence of police in areas with heightened crime rates, and is or has previously been implemented by SPD in areas like 3rd Avenue and 12th and Jackson, at Harrell’s direction.

“My plan with my limited resources is a place-based approach. You concentrate on those areas,” Greening said. “The random patrolling, the 911 response, it’s not working.”

While Hall supports the hot spot approach, he said it won’t work long term without a plan to eradicate causes of crime in an area.

“Police are very good at going in and short-term stamping out crime, but as soon as they leave, that all comes back,” Hall cautioned.

They each pointed to community members and people with lived experience as important mediators to help prevent crime.


“Using community partners, those violence interrupters or people that are actually able to help reduce a potential violence, or even community partners that are just calling 911 when they see an issue that’s coming about,” Diaz said. He added that the community has “a shared responsibility to address all of our violence.”

Hall added that any violence interrupters or community intervention should be run by a different department or third party because “credibility erodes” if people are working for the police.

Diaz also said he would continue to advocate further gun regulations, noting his past testimony to legislators about issues including ghost guns and storage requirements. 

Does SPD need a culture change?

Each candidate agreed SPD needs a culture change, and that officers feeling supported is paramount to effecting departmental change.

Diaz blamed the 2020 “riots” and attrition from the department for low morale, noting that he is working to make officers “whole” with psychologists and other support. Greening similarly said the department needs stability and support to be able to usher in a new era at SPD, bringing the department out from under a 12-year consent decree with the Department of Justice.

“I want to change the culture into another phase, and that phase is graduating from the DOJ settlement agreement and not having departmental culture change happen because there’s been a scandal or having reactionary policies put in place because we made a mistake,” Greening said.


Diaz said the SPD’s Before the Badge program, which teaches trauma response and community training to new recruits for 45 days before they begin the police academy, is helping new officers “change and be a part of the community.”

He did not share any details on improving “buy-in” from established officers, for whom a culture change would be a shift in the status quo.

Hall shared much of the others’ sentiment on department culture but suggested he would be able to create more change as an outsider and that the city would benefit from having a police chief with a “blank slate” on relationships within the department, with the union and in City Hall.

“Leaders are change agents. And if they’re not, then I would submit they’re not much of a leader,” Hall said.